The art & etiquette of bailing

Oct. 13, 2017, 6:30 a.m.

You’re just SO busy.

You agreed to that movie night before you realized your RBA would suck so much. You agreed to dinner in Palo Alto before you realized you would have to bike there. You agreed to attend that frat party before you realized you were a terrible flake and just wanted to drink tea and watch Friends.

As easy as it may be to shoot a text to the most recent victim of your flakiness, your social life may thank you if you read this simple guide of do’s and don’ts first. So,

When is bailing valid?

P-sets: Maybe valid

The validity of this excuse can vary. I mean, do you ever really not have a p-set? Granted, when you’re stuck in the (new and improved) physics tutoring center an hour and a half before the deadline, trying to convince your TA that really, you HAVE looked at the questions… that’s a different story.

Ordinarily, though, just suggest a CoHo study date to replace the coffee you originally agreed to grab with a friend. Honestly, this can be way better than your original plan.

Sleep: Maybe valid

If you were up until 3 AM last night on Buzzfeed, that’s your own damn fault. If you’re simply a stressed out little duck-syndrome-inflicted college student, then take some you-time, please. But for the future, be creative with your sleep schedule. Squeeze a nap in between two lectures! Learn to power nap! Sleep in class (just kidding… right?).

Bike broke: Valid

You may as well have broken both ankles and perhaps your heart. Your #1 priority should definitely be a trip to the bike shop and their completely unrelated bowl of saltwater taffy.

Double-booking/forgetting/misunderstanding plans: Valid the first 3 times

Please. Download. Google Calendar.

On another note, you may be interested in checking out Business Insider’s list of “12 apps that every student should have.”

Bailmitting: Invalid


[beyl-mit] | verb

  1. Making plans knowing you’re gonna bail.


Person A: “Saturday night party at my place. You free?”

Person B (bailmitter): “Absolutely!” knowing full well that they are scheduled for a long night of irrelevant Snapchat news surfing and YouTube.

Person B, Saturday morning: “So sorry! Suddenly swamped! Have a great time!”

Group project/partner programming bailing: Invalid

NO. Group projects should be the excuse for bailing on other things. DON’T BE THIS PERSON.

Now that you’ve covered all the do’s and don’ts, we’re ready to move on to an outline of the various levels of bailmanship, a hierarchy of excuse believability and varying amounts of internal shame.

How good are my excuses?

Novice: Long-winded, desperate, lots of holes

Ex: “Sorry, I have to bail on movie night, I’m allergic to peanuts so I can’t have popcorn. Oh! And I have a midterm tonight that I completely spaced on. Wait, you’re in that class too? There’s no midterm? Oh. Well, we’ll have one eventually. I should start studying. Bye have fun!!1!”

Intermediate: Short, to the point, ruthless

Ex: “Hey, can’t do 2nite. *Have fun tho!”

*insert cliché here, i.e. “Maybe some other time?” “Totally slammed, you know how it is,” etc.

Note: This level can be demoted to novice depending on the naiveté of the bailee.

Advanced: Notifies bailee at least 10 hours before scheduled plans, bemoans all that is to be missed out on, makes specific suggestion for reschedule, asks for photos of the event in an effort to express interest.

Ex: “SO sorry, COMPLETELY forgot about this group project meeting I have. You know, for that class I’ve been complaining to you about? Ugh, I was SO looking forward to this. Send Snaps!! I know next Friday is free for me, how about we try again?”

Expert: Inexplicable. Acquired through years of bailing experience and nuance.

Ex: Go out of your way. Hire acquaintance taking TAPS 103 (“I feel so enlightened from this class, man. I’m the next Matt Damon, I swear”). Show up at bailee’s doorstep. Present TAPS acquaintance as your cousin from Paraguay whose flight got in late so he missed his connection to Seattle so you’re putting him up and staying in to make sure he doesn’t get lost. On your way back take close-up selfie of the two of you in front of obscure palm tree. Print and hang proof of your July 2014 trip to Paraguay in your dorm room until graduation day.

Now go forth and bail. Or don’t. Maybe just don’t take on more than you can handle. HA just kidding, acquiring that kind of skill mandates a book and a series of 4-unit classes. Just stick to this article.


Contact Lauren Taylor at tay17 ‘at’

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